Here’s the latest bit –
You can see the three fillings from the blackwork filling collection immediately above this new strip. It’s very different in feel from the previous pieces. The proportions are huge. It will span edge to edge (half again as wide as the already-embroidered area, with 25% extra to the right and left of the stitched area. This pattern is one of the ones that will appear in the upcoming book. I’ve charted it from a 16th century artifact in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The original is strip worked in red silk on linen, probably a band of edging on domestic goods – a tablecloth, cover, towel, or sheet (the museum has about 31 inches of this pattern – a bit over four full design repeats). The repeat itself is one of the less commonly seen constructs – more of a large sideways “S” than the standard mirror around two centers bounce repeat.
Here’s a simple two-centers bounce repeat, with a minor bit of complication in the “bindings” that unite the two sprigs between the acorns:
There’s an “up” acorn and a “down” acorn. The design is mirrored to the left and right of each acorn’s centermost spine. The directionality of the bindings is a very minor departure from the bounce-repeat symmetry. Here’s another, more elaborate example of the same type of simple repeat:
Again, there’s a center line down the middle of the main motif flower, and the design is mirrored left and right of it. This one is a little bit more complicated because the “up” and “down” versions of the pattern are different, but it’s still a simple two-center bounce repeat:
The pattern I’m working on now has a center, and does feature a limited mirror repeat It’s an axis that runs through the bunch of grapes. You can see that I started there, at the not well-defined visual center – it aligns with the center of the pattern immediately above it. I don’t have enough stitched yet to show you how this pattern falls out, but if you zip over to the artifact page, you will see that the grapes and flowers section is in fact a mirrored repeat, BUT the bead line columns do not mirror. (You can see I’ve started one to the right of the trumpet flower). All of the bead-columns in the original slant in the same direction. This method of building a repeat is quite uncommon. Which is one of the reasons why I’m playtesting this particular snippet.
The other reason is the sold black stitching. As discussed, I’m trying to work out the method used to produce the mesh like grids so often used in period voided work. I don’t believe that the originals I’ve been looking at employ a withdrawn thread method to produce the perforated ground, so a pulled thread stitch is most likely. This piece used what looked like the same method, but limited to little accents. I have to say that I do like the look of what I’ve stitched so far in Italian Two-Sided Cross Stitch (ITSCS), pulled as tightly as possible, but I’m not satisfied that I’m using the same stitch as the artifact. Problems of thread thickness and tensile strength for pulled work aside (I’m using two strands of standard DMC cotton floss on 36 count linen), I can’t get enough of a “pull” over my 2×2 thread background to produce the mesh-like ground effect. I’ll finish out this strip with ITSCS, but will continue experimenting, seeking that mesh-like look.
Reply to Anna – yes, that’s my hoop over on the side. The yellow is well-washed twill tape, which I used to wrap/dress the inner hoop. This gives me more "grab" and cushions the work and protects it. Still, I only use tambour (round) hoops for cotton floss stitching. If I’m using silk, metallic threads, or even linen, I use a rectangular frame that doesn’t crush the work in progress.
I have a vague memory of playing with ITSCS as an Assisi-style background. It seems to me that I liked two strands for coverage, and one strand for coverage + pulling.